After a seven hour ride by car from Rochester, two days in New York City, an hour cab ride to the airport (it is usually only thirty five minutes but I got stuck in the German Day Parade), a six hour and forty five minute plane ride, a twenty five minute cab ride from the Madrid, Spain airport to the Train Station, a four hour and twelve minute wait at the train station, a seven hour and three minute train ride to Barcelona, France, (this train was forty six minutes late due to a police investigation of a man who committed suicide by jumping off of a bridge on to the train), a quick run at the station; with help carrying my bags from a couple I met from Wisconsin,(fortunately this train was late) a one hour and twenty two minute train ride to Cerbre, France, a two hour and twenty eight minute wait at the train station, an over night; eight hour and fifty three minute train ride to Ventimigli, Italy, a quick run to catch a train to Genova, Italy, a five hour and three minute train ride, a twenty two minute wait in Genova, a two hour and forty seven minute train ride to Voghera, Italy, a thirty seven minute wait in Voghera, a one hour and thirty nine minute train ride to Piacenz, Italy, a forty eight minute wait in Piacenz, Italy, a one hour and twelve minute train ride to Bologna, and a twenty two minute ride by cab to my new home at Via Borghi Mamo 5 in Bologna. That is all that it took to get here. (I had a lot of sitting time so I kept careful notes)


Well, as time consuming as that may seem, it really was quite exciting! It was not quite a exhausting as it sounded, now that it is all over. Here I was, an American on his first extended train trip through Europe, alone with provisions for a year abroad, carrying way too much, actually dragging two duffel bags weighing way too much. (The big green bag actually wore several holes from being dragged with the other big darker green duffel on top of it.)

Being in a foreign country is quite dramatic. I have always been intrigued by how different countries solve different simple problems. Or how does it, relative to how I know it, look different in the Madrid train station than in the Rochester train station? I recall as a small child being interested in the small details of life. Once I was traveling with my mother and grandfather in the autumn to visit my great aunt who was in a retirement home for nuns. For some most likely dumb reason I was angry at my mother and we stopped in north central Pennsylvania to look at a beautiful over look, my mother and grandpa were admiring the view with all of the splendid fall colors and I was mad so I hung out the window and looked at the small rocks on the ground beside the car and thought to myself that I can see beauty in the details. ..(regardless if I could or not). This bit of stupid anger towards my elders set me off on a life long journey of curiosity about details. (It is not in spite of what they wanted me to do that I still do this (I don't think) but it did open my eyes to appreciating the uniqueness generally less appreciated details.

So, for years I have been interested in the common, ordinary details of what a different part of the world looks like.

I slept, or as someone I met said, dozed on the train. I splurged and got a first class ticket for most of the trip. It helped, but a tall, lanky guy like me cannot stretch out in any seat, no matter what class it is! I had hoped to get a first class sleeper car with a bed but they were all sold out. The second-class sleeper cars stuffed six in a small compartment. I really did not dream that night. I did awaken millions of times with abstract and overlapping visions of where I was, and what was going on.

Finally, the break of day brought clarity and a beautiful view of sunrise by the French Riviera.

The day was a spectacular ride along the coast with beautiful views of the sea through Spain, France, and Italy. I like many others spent hours looking at the wonderful (foreign) world pass by as if watching it all through a dream or on a big screen.

As I sat and watched I wondered of the difference between dreams, memories, and imagination or fantasy. None of these exist. They are all in our mind. I recall sitting on the Island of Crete, Greece after two months of being completely lazy and relaxing and traveling around the country. I felt as relaxed and un-stressed as I ever have. Before we started our long return trip to the states. (back from reality, not back to reality, as I say) I sat and meditated and thought about how relaxed I felt and that in my mind I will always have this feeling and carry it with me. It is mine and the feeling could only be mine. What I found interesting was that after I got into the routine of work back in Rochester and I got quite stressed, I would close my eyes and think (or imagine) myself back on the island of Crete and my stress level would go down, my muscles would relax, and my mind would clear. I found this to be a life changing exercise! And use it often.

Getting to my new 'home', I felt exhausted but in a way refreshed to be finally there. I wonder how it will all go? Will I be successful? What does success really mean? Personally? Professionally? Spiritually? Who will be the judges?